We’re planning on going on vacation this summer, so I’ve already started trying to get all of my ducks in a row to make it go as smoothly as possible. There was a time in the distant past when I could pack for a week-long vacation in two hours the night before. Throw some cute outfits and my tooth brush in a suitcase, grab my purse, and bam! I could hit the road.
10 years and four kids later, and I’m lucky if it only takes me two weeks – and I still usually forget something.
1.Make a List
I don’t understand those people who don’t make lists. I have at least four lists going at any given moment of my life – To Do Today, To Do Some Day Soon, Groceries, Stuff I Need To Remember Or The World As We Know It Will End. (Those are their official titles). When we’re planning for a vacation, the number of lists doubles – packing lists for each member of the family, packing lists for essentials to bring that will be used by all of us, a list of things I have to do to get the house ready for us to be gone for a while, a list of things for our house sitter to know, a list of things I need to do before I leave or the world as we know it will end…you get the idea.
I’m not the most proactive when it comes to laundry. Our clothes hampers are pretty much always full, and there are many times when I don’t realize clothes need to be done until someone complains about being out of underwear. So when I know I have to pack enough clothes for six people to wear for a week, well, needless to say, the laundry situation starts getting real. Once I get things washed I usually hide it somewhere so people won’t wear it again. There’s nothing worse than watching your five year old wear her favorite bathing suit to make slime when you know you need it for the beach in two days.
3.Get the Car Ready
Maybe I’m the only one, but my car – the family car – is a sty. No matter how often I clean it out (ok, not that often because that takes time I would rather dedicate to sleeping) it is almost always disgusting. Being stuck in a filthy car for two days with my whole family is one of my recurring nightmares, so I usually try to shovel it out a day or two before we leave. If I try to get it done much before that, you won’t be able to tell I made the attempt on the day we leave. The last time I emptied it out I found two sippy cups, petrified french fries, a Barbie head and a book about animal poop under one of the seats. When all was said and done I had filled a trash bag and one of those giant Tupperware bins with kid junk. Come to think of it, I’m actually kind of proud they could still fit in the car with all of that.
Make sure the portable dvd player is working. Put batteries in the portable game systems. Make each kid a bag of books, small toys and coloring pads. Find the travel pillows and blankets. Unearth travel bingo. Buy snacks. Slip ear plugs in my purse…
5.Plan Potty Stops
This has gotten easier as the children have gotten older and more in control of their body functions, but we usually try to have an idea of good stops to make that are clean and safe on the way to where we’re going. For instance, if the eight year old decides she needs to go to the bathroom, it’s nice to be able to pass up the scary gas station for the fancy travel center that you know is a mile down the road. There is nothing worse than trying to teach your daughter to hover over the toilet seat while keeping your eyes peeled for rogue cockroaches.
One day I’m sure we’ll get back to the grab and go vacation method, but until that day, I’ll just keep track of my lists and be grateful we get to go away for a while.
Sandra Samoska is a writer with a love for Jesus and a love for family. When she's not chasing around her four kids and doing all the things, you can find her writing about the ways God shows up in our every day lives.